Impian victory seals Merit title for Fung

Nicholas Fung ©Arep Kulal|PGM
Nicholas Fung ©Arep Kulal|PGM

Kajang: Nicholas Fung birdied the third extra hole to beat Iylia Jamil at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Impian Classic on Saturday after a pulsating final day contest at Impian Golf & Country Club.

Trailing by two shots after 14 holes, the 23-year-old Sabahan birdied three of his last four holes for a four-under 68 to tie his former national stable-mate on 15-under-par 273.

Sukree Othman, who led the tournament after the opening round, finished with a 70 and was third on six-under 282, tied with Chien Tan (72) while the trio of Shaifubari Muda (69), Shaaban Hussin (71) and Iain Steel (72) were a stroke back in joint fifth.

Fung and Iylia cancelled each other out with pars on the first two play-off holes before the national number one pulled off a brilliant approach to within eight feet and drained the resulting birdie putt.

“You expect to win when you’re playing well and I’m delighted with the hard-fought victory. Iylia took his chances early on and I had to play catch up, which was tough. But I got into my stride late on and that three birdies at the end gave me that extra confidence going into the play-off,” said Fung, who became the first player to win four titles in a single season on the burgeoning domestic circuit.

The title all but guaranteed him a second successive Order of Merit crown as he extended his lead on the Money List to RM221,311 with only the season-ending Maybank Tour Championship to be played. 2011 winner R. Nachimuthu is next best on RM118,358.

“It’s been a great year for me but there is definitely room for improvement. My putting has had a topsy-turvy year and that’s something that I need to work on because it makes the all the difference when playing on the Asian Development Tour or Asian Tour,” he added.

Despite coming up just short of landing the title, Iylia was happy with his overall performance in the RM150,000 tournament. “I play well under the circumstances and I’m pleased that I put myself in contention. I’m obviously disappointed to have lost the playoff but that is how golf goes and I accept it,” he noted.

Leading final round scores
273 – Nicholas Fung 70-68-67-68
273 – Iylia Jamil 68-67-71-67
282 – Sukree Othman 67-70-75-70, Chien Tan 76-65-69-72
283 – Shaifubari Muda 73-70-71-69, Shaaban Hussin 69-69-74-71, Iain Steel 70-70-71-72
285 – R. Nachimuthu 71-72-72-70, Mohamad Rizal Amin 71-73-69-72, Khor Kheng Hwai 69-73-70-73
286 – Rahizam Ramli 71-72-67-76, Airil Rizman 72-69-70-75, Akhmal Tarmizee 73-74-72-67
288 – Kemarol Baharin 75-72-72-69, Nicholas Pua 71-72-75-70.